Rachael Bell - Raw Sunday

Rachael Bell
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In a way, it's a good thing that Rachael Bell had to make Raw Sunday, her debut album, an acoustic record. Making a record that was even more of a minimalist effort than Colour Me Blue - which was Bell's follow up record released under the name Rueben's Thread - showcased Bell's strengths as a vocalist, lyricist and guitarist.

But when Bell adds the remixed version of "Not the End of the World" as a bonus track, listeners also get a hint at what they missed when finances forced Bell to go into the studio with just her guitar. The piano, vocal and bass accompaniment make "Not the End of the World" a much richer song. One might suppose that the acoustic version would be more intimate. However, that is not necessarily the case with Bell. Bell sings with such a conversational style that she draws the listener in.

In a way, it's a good thing that Rachael Bell had to make Raw Sunday, her debut album, an acoustic record. Making a record that was even more of a minimalist effort than Colour Me Blue - which was Bell's follow up record released under the name Rueben's Thread - showcased Bell's strengths as a vocalist, lyricist and guitarist.

But when Bell adds the remixed version of "Not the End of the World" as a bonus track, listeners also get a hint at what they missed when finances forced Bell to go into the studio with just her guitar. The piano, vocal and bass accompaniment make "Not the End of the World" a much richer song. One might suppose that the acoustic version would be more intimate. However, that is not necessarily the case with Bell. Bell sings with such a conversational style that she draws the listener in.

You want to get close and hear Bell's lyrics. Those lyrics rarely disappoint, as Bell again proves that she is an excellent storyteller. She always seems to include a song or two that are so personal that the listener wants to learn more about Rachael Bell the person. The song that did that for me on Colour Me Blue was "Just Like You," which was a letter from a woman to her military lover who had been deployed overseas seeking advice on how to deal with the couple's growing son.

Bell digs deeper into family relationships on Raw Sunday. On "I Wanna," Bell is having a conversation with her child. In the song, Bell sings about the conflicted emotions children elicit from their parents. Bell sings about how she wants the best for her child, and how the mother wants to be there to guide her child even as she knows that the time is coming to cut the cord. This song showcases Bell at her absolute best. She has the rare ability to distill complex emotions such as love, uncertainty and frustration into a three or four minute track that is totally compelling and intelligent.

A song such as "Get The Message" could be about Bell's realization that a lover just isn't into her. The song could have also been inspired by Bell's travails with her record label. The label realized her talent and signed her to a deal, but the suits didn't know what to do with this talent so they cut her before she could make a record. Frustrated, Bell scrapped together enough money to go into a studio with her acoustic guitar and record Raw Sunday, a disc that could initially have served as nothing more than Bell's personal statement. However, Bell went back into the studio with a full band and made Colour Me Blue, and the positive reception that thatalbum received prompted Bell to reissue Raw Sunday. Everyone who hears this record will be happy about Bell's decision. Recommended.

Howard Dukes

 
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Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'

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